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Source: Sox had ‘marginal interest’ in catcher Snyder

07.31.10 at 11:37 am ET
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According to a major league source, the Red Sox demonstrated “marginal interest” in Diamondbacks catcher Chris Snyder before he was moved to the Pirates (along with a minor leaguer) for infielder Bobby Crosby, outfielder Ryan Church and reliever D.J. Carrasco. However, the source said, Snyder — who is in the second year of a three-year, $14.25 million deal that pays him $4.75 million this year and $5.75 million in 2011 — would have had to come at a fairly low salary for next season, meaning the Sox only had interest in acquiring him if there was some financial relief offered by Arizona.

Snyder is hitting .231 with a .352 OBP, .426 slugging mark, .778 OPS and 10 homers for the Diamondbacks this year. The two primary Sox catchers this year, Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek, are both eligible for free agency next season.

Read More: chris snyder, mlb trade deadline,

Doubront to the bullpen

07.31.10 at 11:26 am ET
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According to multiple major league sources, the Red Sox will shift starter Felix Doubront to the bullpen in hopes of bolstering their struggling relief corps. Earlier in July, the team had anticipated that the left-hander would remain stretched out in the Pawtucket starting rotation since he represents valuable depth for the major league starting staff. However, with the team’s ongoing bullpen struggles, the Sox have committed to shifting him to relief for the remainder of the year, a process that will begin immediately. According to the sources, Doubront’s shift to relief will occur regardless of whether the Sox make any moves to acquire bullpen help.

Doubront is 8-3 with a 2.88 ERA in the minors this year, and 1-2 with a 4.11 ERA in three big league starts. The 22-year-old has never made a relief appearance as a professional. In the majors, Doubront held lefties to a .158 average with a .396 OPS in 21 plate appearances. With the Sox lacking an effective lefty in the bullpen right now (given the struggles of Hideki Okajima), his potential to contribute as a reliever became increasingly appealing to the Sox, particularly given the available options on the trade market.

That said, the Sox still view the left-hander as a starter over the long term. They simply are trying to create options for the duration of a season in which the Sox bullpen features a 4.43 ERA, has allowed the most homers in the AL (43) while permitting the second most blown saves (14).

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For Red Sox, Qualls not worth the investment

07.31.10 at 10:35 am ET
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According to a major league source it is looking like there will be a few more relievers moved prior to Saturday’s 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline, one which the Red Sox weren’t willing to bite on was Arizona righty Chad Qualls.

The Rays secured the services of Qualls Saturday for a player to be named later, taking on what was left of the 31-year-old’s contract (which comes out to approximately $1.6 million this season). For the Red Sox, paying that kind of price for a pitcher who hadn’t produced this season simply wasn’t worth it. According to a source, the Sox showed some interest in Qualls, but considering the pitcher is carrying an 8.51 ERA along with the somewhat hefty price tag, Boston didn’t deem it worth trying to trump Tampa Bay’s offer.

Red Sox vs. Tigers matchups, 7/31

07.31.10 at 9:43 am ET
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Daisuke Matsuzaka has had quite an interesting season for the Red Sox. In 14 starts he has compiled a 7-3 record with a fairly decent 4.09 ERA. However, the Japanese right-hander has pitched more than six innings only twice, and has walked three or more batters in nine of his starts.

His last three outings have been relatively stress-free ‘€” save for the five walks he issued against Seattle on July 25 ‘€” to the tune of giving up only four runs in 18 2/3 innings of work.

Matsuzaka has had a fair amount of success against this current Tigers roster, with only Johnny Damon sporting a batting average over .200 in at least 10 at bats against the righty.

For Detroit, flamethrower Max Scherzer (7-8, 4.45 ERA) will be taking the mound, looking to bounce back from his last appearance against Tampa Bay. In that outing July 26, he and Rays starter Matt Garza had dueling no-hitters going into the sixth inning, but then Scherzer was touched for a grand slam by Matt Joyce and was subsequently taken out of the game.

In his last outing against the Sox on May 14, Scherzer struggled, allowing six runs on three home runs in only five innings in an eventual 7-2 loss. The Sox do not have much experience against the righty, although Mike Cameron is hitting .333 in six at-bats against him.

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Read More: Daisuke Matsuzaka, Detroit Tigers, Red Sox,

What happened in Cameron’s last at-bat

07.31.10 at 12:22 am ET
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The Red Sox were seemingly on their way Friday night. Instead they had to walk off with a 6-5 loss to the Tigers.

After David Ortizgrand slam brought the Sox within a run in the ninth inning, Adrian Beltre ripped a two-out double, which was followed by an intentional walk to pinch-hitter J.D. Drew. That paved the way for Mike Cameron to step to the plate against Detroit closer Jose Valverde.

Valverde, who was now at 54 pitches, had faced Cameron the inning before, striking out the Sox’ outfielder by throwing four splitters and one fastball. This time around the closer came back primarily with the heater, tossing fastballs on his first five offerings to Cameron, inducing a full count.

But then, with the prospect of the Sox loading the bases and Eric Patterson coming to the plate, Valverde came back with a splitter, freezing Cameron and finishing off the game with the Red Sox’ last hope looking at a called third strike.

“I swung at a lot of splits the first time, so he threw me all fastballs in the last at-bat,” Cameron explained. “Then the split, for a strike. I just didn’t get it done.

“The guy hadn’t thrown me no strikes with the splitter, but he threw a good pitch, made a good pitch with that one. Sad as it may seem, I guess I have to chalk it up, tip my camp to him.”

A real pain in Damon’s back

07.31.10 at 12:19 am ET
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The last thing Johnny Damon wanted to do was miss his return to Fenway Park for the first time as a member of the Detroit Tigers. But the outfielder, who starred on the 2004 World Series champions, had to pull himself out of the starting lineup before Friday’s series opener with sharp pain due to spasms in the middle of his back.

“I think [Saturday] is going to be a big day,” Damon said of his chances of playing the rest of the weekend in Boston. “I’m hoping I’m ready to play. I’m hoping this is just a two-day thing. I was doing everything in my power to give [outfielder Brennan] Boesch that day off.”

Damon’s injury is just the latest to hamper the Tigers lineup as Brandon Inge is out with fracture in his left hand, Carlos Guillen is out with a right calf strain and Magglio Ordonez is out with a fractured right ankle. Inge, Guillen and Ordonez are all on the disabled list. Starter Armando Galarraga had to leave Friday’s game one out shy of a win when Kevin Youkilis drilled a liner off his right ankle.

“I tried doing everything I could to get ready for this game,” Damon said after Detroit’s 6-5 win. “I know we’re very shorthanded. I wanted to come out and play in front of the Fenway crowd without wearing that Yankee uniform. But that looks like it’s going to have to wait.

“I’m not sure how long this [injury will take to recover]. You could say it came out of the blue. I felt it before the game in Tampa [Thursday]. I didn’t really think much of it after the game [Thursday] but when I started moving around today, I was in considerable pain.”

Still, Damon managed to keep his characteristic good humor following Detroit’s nail-biting 6-5 win over the Red Sox on Friday, a game that featured two home runs by a Johnny of a different name. Third baseman Jhonny Peralta, in his first game since being acquired from Cleveland on Wednesday, homered twice and had three hits in the much-needed win for the Bengals, snapping a four-game losing streak.

“It’s a good thing we have a Jhonny who can hit home runs,” Damon said. “[It was] a Jhonny who helped produce today for us. That was huge.”

Read More: armando galarraga, Brandon Inge, Johnny Damon, MLB

Lester laments a night when he had ‘nothing’

07.31.10 at 12:12 am ET
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It was a struggle from the outset for Jon Lester. In his prior outing against the Mariners, Lester had retired each of the first 16 batters while featuring an incredible four-pitch arsenal that rendered him, quite literally, unhittable. On Friday against Detroit, however, the left-hander said that he felt “terrible” while warming up, a sentiment that continued into the game when the Tigers tallied their first hit of the night on his second pitch and kept adding on.

“I go through one start with probably the best stuff I’€™ve ever had in my life to nothing,” Lester rued.

The result wasn’t pretty. The left-hander allowed a career-worst 11 hits, and suffered his third loss in as many starts, the first time in his career that he has ever dropped three straight outings. He gave up a pair of homers to Jhonny Peralta, matching a season high for homers allowed, while yielding four runs (all earned) in six-plus innings. He absorbed the ‘L’ in his team’s 6-5 loss, and his record since the All-Star break is now 0-3 with a 4.57 ERA.

Lester’s struggles were particularly surprising given the depleted state of the Tigers lineup. The team is without lineup mainstays Magglio Ordonez, Brandon Inge and Carlos Guillen, while Johnny Damon was a late scratch due to back spasms. Yet Lester couldn’t capitalize.

“Lineups don’€™t matter if you go out there and execute pitches. I just flat out didn’€™t do that tonight,” he said. “It was just one of those nights. You have them. In 30-some odd starts of the year, you’€™re going to have some where you don’€™t feel good. Physically I feel fine. Just no rhythm, no balance, no execution. You name it, there wasn’€™t any of it tonight.”

Even so, on a night when his stuff was not as sharp as is usually the case, Lester managed to prevent the game from getting out of hand, and also kept the bullpen in line. Though he labored through 115 pitches, he competed in what his teammates considered admirable fashion.

“Obviously it wasn’€™t his best stuff,” said catcher Victor Martinez. “Once again, he was able to battle and gave us a chance to come back and win the game. He didn’€™t have his best stuff and he threw six-plus and that was it. Somebody else, when they don’€™t have their best stuff, they don’€™t make it through three or four innings.”

Still, Lester was not one for silver linings. On a night when the Sox slipped to 6 1/2 games back in the wild card standings, he was not in a celebratory mood — not that he ever would be following a loss.

“Obviously it’€™s later in the season and we’€™re trying to win ballgames and get back into this thing, but a loss is a loss. It doesn’€™t feel good regardless of what time of the season it is,” said Lester. “Any time I take the ball I don’€™t want to lose. It doesn’€™t matter the time of the year. They all don’€™t feel good.”

Read More: Jon Lester, tigers,

Patterson explains ill-advised stolen base attempt

07.31.10 at 12:02 am ET
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The play’s importance grew as the game progressed.

With nobody out in the seventh inning, and the Red Sox trailing, 4-1, Eric Patterson walked to lead off the home half of the frame. But whatever optimism the inning began with for the Red Sox soon disappeared when the Sox outfielder was gunned down by Detroit catcher Gerald Laird.

Marco Scutaro immediately followed with a single, before Jed Lowrie struck out and Kevin Youkilis lined out to end the inning. But it was two innings later that the sting of the ill-advised stolen base attempt really took hold, as the Sox fought back from a 6-1 deficit in the ninth thanks to David Ortizgrand slam, cutting the lead to just a run. Unfortunately for the Sox, that’s where the rally would end, with the home side falling just a run short, losing to the Tigers, 6-5, in the series opener at Fenway Park.

“In that situation obviously you don’t want to run into an out, but if you can get a bag there and possibly push one run across, it’s a lot easier to score two runs than it is three later in the ballgame. It just so happens it was a fastball up, a good pitch for the catcher to throw and he threw it up the line right at my helmet. If he throws that anywhere else I’m probably safe. You understand that you can’t make mistakes like that. You learn from it, adapt and move on,” said Patterson, who had been caught on just two of his 24 stolen base attempts in his big league career.

“On that pitch I felt like I got a good jump but looking at the video it was a fastball up, which for a catcher it’s a great pitch to throw on. It was just a perfect spot. If that balls on the bag I’m safe. It was just one of those things that was unfortunate because it turned out to what seems like a big play. Again, I understand late in the game like that you have to be 100 percent sure and it didn’t work out today.”

Patterson made it clear after the loss that the decision to steal was his, and his alone.

“He was trying to make something happen that probably wasn’t there,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

Closing Time: Tigers 6, Red Sox 5

07.30.10 at 11:02 pm ET
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The Tigers lineup seemed to present little threat to Red Sox starter Jon Lester. With the lineup already stripped by injuries to second baseman Carlos Guillen, third baseman Brandon Inge and outfielder Magglio Ordonez, Detroit announced shortly before the game that left fielder Johnny Damon would be scratched with back spasms.

Didn’t matter. Jhonny Peralta, acquired by the Tigers in a trade on Thursday, blasted a pair of homers against Lester in his Tigers debut. Peralta became the first Tigers player since Billy McMillon in 2000 to launch a pair of homers in his first game with Detroit, and the Sox could manage little offense until a too-little, too-late ninth-inning grand slam by David Ortiz en route to a 6-5 loss.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

–Perhaps he is just a victim of the very high expectations that he has set for himself, but for the third straight outing, Jon Lester — who pitched serviceably, allowing four runs in six-plus innings, was hit hard. He set a new career high by allowing 11 hits, and matched a season high by conceding two homers.

For the third straight start, he allowed three or more earned runs (matching his longest such streak of the year, which previously took place in the first three games of the year). Since the All-Star break, Lester is now 0-3 with a 4.57 ERA.

Adrian Beltre had a chance to put the Sox on the board early, batting with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the first. But he bounced into a harmless comebacker, and the Sox are now 1-for-13 with the bases loaded since the All-Star break.

–In his first relief appearance since going back from the rotation to the bullpen, Tim Wakefield exhibited rust. In his first relief appearance since May 17 (and first appearance of any sort since July 20), Wakefield allowed a pair of runs in an eighth inning in which he gave up a walk, single and wild pitch.

Mike Cameron offered a glimpse of the defensive limitations that have resulted from his abdominal injury when a ball to the gap in left-center ticked off the tip of his glove. It was a play that a healthy Cameron likely would have made in past seasons. While he has always ranked as one of the top defensive outfielders in the game for several years, Cameron entered Friday with a -11 rating in the John Dewan Plus/Minus system (meaning he had made 11 fewer plays than the average center fielder on comparable plays), a mark that ranked 30th among big league center fielders.

–Though Jeremy Hermida was robbed of a hit on a diving play by second baseman Will Rhymes, he suffered another hitless night, going 0-for-3. He is now 2-for-20 since returning from the disabled list, including an 0-for-17 stretch that dates to his first start off the disabled list. With a left-handed reliever on the mound in the eighth, the Sox elected to pinch-hit for Hermida, whose playing time seems to be in some jeopardy (even with a right-hander on the mound, he was not originally in the starting lineup).

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Victor Martinez delivered the first extra-base hit by a Red Sox catcher since Jason Varitek hit a double on June 24. It was the first extra-base knock for Martinez since June 19.

Martinez had a strong overall game at the plate, doubling twice, walking and driving a ball the opposite way to left-center. His first double came while batting left-handed, and his second came after he had turned around against left-handed reliever Phil Coke. The right-handed double was particularly noteworthy, given that Martinez had struggled more with his slightly fractured left thumb while batting from the right side.

With an assist from the umpire, Martinez also threw out an attempted base thief, the first runner he’s gunned down since returning from the DL.

David Ortiz launched a grand slam against Tigers closer Jose Valverde with one out in the ninth inning, giving the Sox their second grand slam in as many games and Ortiz his first since 2008. That blow turned around the night for Ortiz, who was 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts to that point in the game. He is striking out with great frequency, having done so at least once in each of the last 13 games, the longest such streak of his career.

Marco Scutaro, who hit a grand slam on Wednesday, hit his second homer in as many games. It marked the fifth time in his career that he has hit homers in consecutive games. He also added a single, and has reached base in seven of his last 10 plate appearances.

–The Red Sox got positive medical news on Dustin Pedroia and Varitek, both of whom achieved what manager Terry Francona described as “significant healing.”

Ellsbury: ‘I just can’t wait to get back’

07.30.10 at 7:48 pm ET
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Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, in Boston to work out with his team on Friday before heading to Pawtucket to continue his rehab assignment on Saturday and Sunday, suggested that he is excited to once again be playing baseball, and eager to return to the Sox to help them down the stretch.

Ellsbury has played just nine games this year, and just three since suffering broken ribs during a collision with third baseman Adrian Beltre on April 11. The 26-year-old went on the disabled list after four fractures were found by a CT scan, returned for three games in late-May and then was placed back on the D.L. due to ongoing discomfort that revealed an additional non-displaced rib fracture. After missing more than 90 games, he said that he is “chomping at the bit” to return to games for the Red Sox, and is excited that — with his rehab at Athletes’ Performance in Arizona concluded — he is nearing that goal.

Ellsbury played three games in the Rookie Level Gulf Coast League this week, and got to test his recovery by running the bases, stealing, sliding and playing outfield. His assignment to Pawtucket should offer a good gauge in the coming days of how close he is to be major league ready.

“I just can’€™t wait to get back. I just can’€™t wait to get back and I know we’€™re definitely in striking distance of both [the Yankees in the AL East and the Rays in the wild card],” said Ellsbury. “I’€™m doing everything in order to play and that’€™s the biggest thing right now, doing all the baseball activities, doing everything I can to play and ultimately, the last step is playing in the games and that’€™s what I’€™ve done the last couple of days in Fort Myers.’€

Ellsbury said that he will likely experience some pain over the duration of the season, but that he is confident that he cannot worsen his injury by playing. That being the case, he suggested that there is little holding him back aside from a return to getting game ready.

“I was chomping at the bit from Day One to get back and playing. … If I can go out there and not make it worse, I’€™ll play with any discomfort I have so that was from day one and that was when I came back, I was under the impression that’€™s how it was going to be,” said Ellsbury. “As long as I know I’€™m not going to hurt it worse, I’€™m ready to go.”

Ellsbury was not sure how many more rehab games he will need before returning to the majors. The Sox plan to have him play on Saturday and Sunday in Pawtucket before re-evaluating him.

Ellsbury said that both he and the team are “on the same page” regarding the course of his rehab. Though there had been questions about his decision to go to Arizona for his rehab (a course that was set, Ellsbury noted, by both him and the team), the outfielder said that there are no hard feelings between him and his teammates, and suggested that the Sox have been nothing but supportive of him during his efforts to return.

‘€œ[The rest of the Red Sox were] all in favor,” Ellsbury said of his rehab in Arizona. “They were wondering what I was doing six days after the injury taking batting practice, [asking], ‘What are you doing?’ So they’€™re all in favor. Every time I come in here, everyone is happy to see me. It’€™s just like where we left off. The teammates, the coaching staff’€™s been awesome. …

“I think if there’€™s any question [about his relationship with the team], I think it’€™s false,” he added. “I think we’€™ve been on the same page for a while. The team, myself, everybody. That’€™s why they sent me to Arizona. That’€™s why they sent me to Fort Myers. Everything’€™s been in their hands. We’€™ve been on the same page for a while. I’€™m happy to start playing baseball. That’€™s the biggest thing.’€

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